Indie

PAX East – Dyscourse Hands-On Impressions

The greatest part about being an indie developer is the the ability to take an idea that you like and just run with it. You can focus on the game aspects that you want without being bogged down by any other constraints. Developer Owlchemy Labs took the idea of narrative choices, and they’ve gone further with it than others dare to even try.

Dyscourse is a game that is all about narrative choices. As a victim of a plane crash, the player joins a group of fellow survivors and must make choices that will affect who will make it off the desert island. With a heavy focus on group mentality, players must lead their group through the dangers of the island and the dangers of each other.


DyscourseThe best part about Dyscourse? One playthrough represents roughly 10-20% of the entire game. That’s right. Each of the choices you make creates different narrative trees that make every game a distinct experience. Choices range from how to scare off a crab to deciding who’s life to save. Every choice had me.

The developers explained that they love the idea of narrative choice but that no one had ever taken it far enough. Games like inFamous and The Walking Dead feature narrative choices but didn’t truly impact the player or the game. If you decide to help one character or go on a quest with another, you’ll always end up at the same place. The developers wanted to create a game that would feel almost entirely different depending on the choices you made. The developer told me a story of a husband and wife who played the game and compared notes afterwords. They were amazed that the wife had traveled with one character to the plane wreckage while the husband never saw that area at all. It brings up a cool conversation between players who can compare their games, inspiring them to go back and make different choices and experience the game all over again.

Dyscourse has me very excited to try out all of the different narratives, and it’s coming to Steam this September.

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